Getting back some true believers. A stoush with big multi-national mining companies is just what the Labor electoral tacticians should have ordered. There’s nothing like reviving memories of a little bit of class warfare to return the formerly faithful lefties to the fold. Even if they still decide to vote Green first Kevin Rudd has now given them a reason not to feel guilty about marking him down for a second preference.

Decisions by the major mining majors to put a few projects on hold will also take a bit of pressure off the working families who were facing increases in their mortgage interest rates because of the growth pressures those miners are putting on the economy.

For Labor this tax on excess profits is a no-brainer. I mean, how do you think people will vote when given the choice between Rudd taxing miners so we all share in the prosperity and running the risk of Tony Abbott cutting welfare payments and putting up income taxes.

It wouldn’t be would it? Back in 2005, Kingdom Holding Company of Saudi Arabia converted a three percent interest in non-voting News Corporation preferred shares into a 5.5 percent interest in News Corporation’s voting common stock. It was in order, the Kingdom website explains, to support News Corporation’s management against a potential hostile bid from Liberty Media.

6-05-2010 Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Kingdom Holding Company has since further built his ties with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. KHC explains that it intends to continue to leverage its relationship with News Corporation’s management to identify new investment opportunities and “is currently exploring the potential for media ventures with News Corporation in the Middle East to capitalise on continuing liberalisation of the entertainment industry in the region.” Business Week reported last month that the Prince held talks in January with chairman and chief executive officer Murdoch on “future potential” alliances and investments.

This month the reports linking News Corporation and Saudi Arabia are of a different kind. The progressive United States veterans organization VoteVets.org released an ad arguing that “a clean energy climate plan would cut our dependence on foreign oil in half and cut oil profits for hostile nations.” CNN and MSNBC have aired the ad but News Corporation’s Fox News is refusing to do so apparently, says Politico because it is “too confusing.”

6-05-2010 vetsoilad

“Every day Congress doesn’t pass a clean energy climate plan our enemies get stronger,” says the ad, which focuses on Iran and presses Congress to pass a bill to “cut oil profits for hostile nations.”

While on the subject of oil. It’s a kind of gallows humour but I did rather like the Dave Letterman 10 BP Excuses:

6-05-2010 bpexcuses

Strange election bedfellows. Appropriate perhaps that the election campaign of the Liberal Democrats in Britain should come to an end with the news in the Times of India that the supposedly clean-skin third force is really not much different to the rest. The paper reports that Sudhir Choudhrie — an accused in several cases filed in India alleging manipulation and bribery in defence purchases — could also become a powerful behind-the-scenes player in Britain, where he and his family have emerged amongst the biggest donors to the Liberal Democrats. As of this week, the Choudhrie family’s funding to the Lib Dems has risen to around £700,000 since 2004, according to figures accessed by TOI from the UK’s Electoral Commission website.

Don’t go Nick. Inspired by the successful campaign of colleague Bernard Keane to keep Malcolm Turnbull as a Liberal MHR I am now out to persuade my new political hero Nick Minchin to forsake retirement and keep going as a Liberal Senator and to continue putting the case for allowing we smokers to go to hell in our own way. His straight talking on Q&A this week was a refreshing change from the anti-smoking rubbish uttered by most politicians even if some people are being unkind enough to suggest there was a little bit of plagiarism in the Minchin comment that there are financial benefits for the community as a whole from smokers dying early.

I do concede, though, that there was a certain similarity between the Q&A words and those in a Yes, Prime Minister episode called The Smokescreen – where Sir Humphrey talks about the amount of money that gets saved by smokers dying early. Then again, Bernard – Keane not the Yes Minister one – reckons that it is the late and great Padraic Pearce McGuinness who first suggested it was a good idea to let working class people smoke so they spent their working lives paying taxes and then dropped dead early, saving pensions and health costs. I don’t care who gets the credit really but I still want Nick to stay. Political friends of smokers are hard to find.

Peter Fray

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